5 Signs a Young Adult May Be Struggling

Moving away from home for the first time is a mountainous life transition for a young adult. This can be a daunting task for young adults between ages 18 and 25, whether they are relocating to a new city to pursue an education or job or moving out of the family home within the same town.

Many parents or guardians know they should remain attuned to their adult child’s well-being and watch for signs of anxiety, depression or other issues, but it could be hard to know what to look for when you no longer share the same home full time.

What are the Warning Signs?

1. Changes in sleep patterns. Research increasingly cites the importance of sleep in mental health maintenance. One warning sign that your loved one may be experiencing a change in mood could be a sudden and significant increase or decrease in their hours spent sleeping. Excessive snoozing over a holiday break or on the weekend doesn’t necessarily indicate a cause for concern, but a continued pattern could be a concern.

2. Isolation. An early warning sign for shifts in mood is less time spent with friends, family, and supports, including long stretches of no interaction with others outside of their home. It should be noted that this is different behavior than someone being naturally introverted or having a small circle of friends. Also, notice if your child has a community of people with whom they share interests.

3. Changes in appetite, energy, and routine. Is your young adult child keeping up with the tasks of daily living? Are they eating and preparing meals for themselves? Are they bathing routinely? Is the young person exhibiting a lack of interest in things they normally enjoy? These warning signs can all indicate a change in mood or a decline in functioning.

4. Excessive video or computer gaming. What is considered excessive is in the eye of the beholder, and gaming can be a social activity for young adults in moderation. As a parent, you may believe three hours of gaming is excessive while your loved one might not see excessive as anything less than ten hours. A better curiosity is whether the video gaming is impeding their daily functioning or whether they can stop gaming for other routine activities or sleep.

5. Social media content. What young adults are posting and people with whom they interact on social platforms can tell you a lot about your loved one’s mood. Before they leave home, be sure you and your child are connected on any other social channels your child enjoys. Be mindful that your young adult child may not share every social media platform that they’re involved in with you.

What Can a Parent Do to Help?

  • Ask questions. Ask more specific questions than the simple “How are you?” Ask your child about how they spend their days. Ask what their life is like, and how they are sleeping. Inquire if they are meeting new people and making friends. Most young adults tend to respond truthfully if asked the right questions.
  • Visit in person periodically. Instead of just meeting your child for dinner, spend an afternoon or evening with them that includes seeing their living space. Are their room and surroundings relatively clean and orderly? Are the dishes and laundry getting done? Is there food in their pantry and fridge? If not, offer to join and help. Some of these tasks can build up and seem daunting for a young adult.
  • Listen without judgement. The most common thing we do wrong when see a loved one suffering is wanting to solve their “problem” or wanting to stop their pain right away. Instead, ask your child what they think is wrong or overwhelming. Express concern and validate which elements might be hard for them to manage. Offer them choices about what kind of solutions or paths could be helpful to their situation.

Excerpted from “5 Signs a Young Adult May Be Struggling” in Psychology Today. Read the full article online.

Source: Psychology Today | Signs a Young Adult May Be Struggling, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mind-matters-menninger/202001/5-signs-young-adult-may-be-struggling | © 2022 Sussex Publishers, LLC

A screening can help you determine if you or someone you care about should contact a mental health professional. CHC teletherapy services are available now.  Call or email our Care Coordinators at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org to set up a free 30-minute consultation appointment.

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